our vw camper van is finished!

17.10.11

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After a lot of blood, sweat and tears, our camper 'Lewes' has had a complete internal renovation!
Its been hard work to do it ourselves with no experience of this kind of thing, but we were so ambitious that this little van was going to take us to some mighty fine places, we worked our fingers to the bone {quite literally}.

We bought our 1978 Volkswagen Type 2 Bus from a lovely couple in near Lewes in Sussex a few months ago. Their three boys were growing out of it, and so had to put it up for sale.
After coming back from a camping trip in Dorset, I received an email telling me the van was still for sale, so we made a detour and headed along to view it. We fell in love and although we looked closely for any rusty problems, our eyes were blinded by love I think!

It came with all the original Devon conversion interior which is extremely 70s {and makes me feel so old that I was born in this year}. I loved it, but we knew it would need a bit of work to make it nice and cosy.

{'before' photos taken by the previous owners}

When we had it back home, we took out all of the interior so that we could get a good look at the bare metal and inspect the rust properly. We un-earthed 33 years worth of fossilised insects and some
sweet wrappers that belonged in a museum and other crud. In fact there was evidence of probably every trip, tucked down the crevasses between the units that are impossible to reach without taking them all out. The cupboards and units themselves are made from chipboard, and we found they were quite rotten at the bottom and swollen up, it was time for them to be replaced.

We found mostly surface rust in patches, but unfortunately, all four seat belt anchor points had rust through to the wheel arch, ouch! {amazingly it came with 12 months MOT!}We knew about some of the damage but not all of it. And, we discovered the battery tray so rusted that it could have just fallen out onto the motorway!

After a lot of Internet searching, we found a lovely guy called Ian from Mayflower MG & VW Services Ltd in Brixton, and after a lot of tutting and chin rubbing, {like mechanics seem to do a lot of} he fixed our van up a treat and gave us lots of helpful info and a free spare wheel!

So then, after a few weeks of sitting idle, we had Lewes back and we started work cleaning, sanding and treating all the rust, re-spraying the interior metal {as it was a bit rusty and with green spray paint along the window sills}, insulating and laying the flooring etc etc etc...

I had already done most of the upholstery work, which you can read more about here although fitting it into the van took longer than the sewing and covering!

FINALLY, we were ready for our first weekend away, the most exciting day of my life {except our wedding of course ; )}  We went to a campsite near East Grinstead, about an hour and half from South London.

Our van now looks like this...

Two very proud owners!

Actually 90% of the work we did is hidden underneath all the carpet and walls etc... but anyways...

Nao sanded down the original table legs that screw into the top and made a lovely new table out of pine, beautifully sanded and oiled.

We found two little bedside cabinets at a junk shop and thought they were just the right size for our van and looked quite 70s. We repainted them in off-white and sanded down the wooden handles.

And I made some bunting out of some vintage Japanese silk remnants which were a present from a very good friend of our in Tokyo, who's parents own a Kimono shop. I love the silk manufacturers stamp!

we used pure wool carpet, of course very impractical! but extremely cosy. So no shoes allowed.

the cab part had a face lift too, after a lot of sanding and re-spraying, we laid down seagrass matting but kept the original VW black matt at the front {I washed it in the bath!}.

so nice to have kitchen drawers! we don't even have this in our flat.

and a TINY fridge...

because of the fumes, I decided to fill our old hurricane lanterns with fairy lights instead...they are battery operated.

What a treat to go away camping and taking a suitcase...its like going on a train trip...

a few essentials ; )

The seat folds out into a very comfortable bedroom with dual aspect windows {I learnt that phrase from an Estate Agent}
I was very happy with the way the sun light shone through the curtains bringing the animals to life!

I also made a linen padded spare wheel cover, but it didn't go to plan! I will have to re-make it at some point. You can just about see it behind that bag. {by the way, wellies from B&Q!}

The bed frame was in a bad state too, all the white plastic coating was coming off. I just gave it a quick sand and enamel paint but needs a bit more work {one day!}.
There are clips in the corner to store the table legs when not in use, clever innit!

It was very lucky of us to get such nice crispy Autumn weather, and a good view too...

The table comes with four legs so we can use it outdoors too, so you can have tea and bicces and look over the rolling English countryside...

for your information, this was very agreeable.

There was a lovely fishing pond at the campsite too, and funnily enough, about ten other VW campervans!

After having an Automatic Nissan Micra, Nao soon got the hang of driving this VERY manual bus.
...and I think, he is looking like a bus driver already.  

We went to some lovely National Trust properties during our stay, but this post is WAY to long as it is, so I will save that for another day.
But, there will be plenty more tales from Lewes soon, I am sure you are going to get very bored!

If you are a crazy person and havent seen enough already, you can see more of the inbetween stages on my Flickr album here.

97 comments:

  1. This is the most beautiful thing I think I have ever seen. Dreamlike, almost. What a wonderful place to relax and admire all of your hard work. Xx

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  2. Wow, it’s actually the most lovely VW camper I have ever seen (and we had two when I was growing up). You have done such a beautiful job, well done :) Here’s to loads of campin’ it up in Lewes. Wooo! xx

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  3. Congratulations! Lewes is looking great! All ur hard work has paid off, it looks so comfy and cosy, love the idea of the removable table for dining alfresco...x

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  4. What a fun post! I am going to re-read it this evening.

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  5. I love that you both put your mind to something and see it through, it is a testimony of your characters. Fantastic re-furb, love it all, including the fab anorak sleeping bags xx

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  6. I need your car!:D

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  7. Lewes is so gorgeous, well done, the interiors are gorgeous, I see a whole other business for you both!

    We stayed in a gorgeous Camper Van called Prudence a few years ago, and I have lusted after one ever since! http://www.flickr.com/photos/emmabradshaw/sets/72157606368323377/

    Emma x

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  8. You and Nao are seriously the best!! I feel as if you could take anything and turn it into a shabby chic dream!
    --julie

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  9. Well done! You have done wonders with it and really made it your own, especially all the little details (I wouldn't have expected any less!).
    You should be extremely proud. Enjoy! : )

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  10. Hurray its finished! so many happy trips await!

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  11. Eeee!! OH.MY.GOODNESS. I'm not even being overly dramatic about my excitement. I was SO happy to see this post. I am IN LOVE with your camper. Seriously, everything turned out perfectly. This is what I want my life to look like. I suppose I will just have to pack up and move across the pond :)

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  12. I am speechless. That is a work of art! Beautiful! What adventures you are going to have (in real style!).

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  13. Oh wow! It looks like so much fun and the best invention ever. You must be so proud of all your hard work, it's made me want to own a VW really badly! Hope you enjoy many wonderful trips!

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  14. Incredible work !! It's fantastic, a dream... Bravo
    C.

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  15. WOW guys you are amazing, such a talented couple. I bet that this is the most stylish camper van in the whole kingdom!
    I love the curtains you made, truly awesome job.
    enjoy your little mobile home :)

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  16. Artemis, Lewes is incredible!! The Texan and I are extremely jealous - we want oneeeeee! Someone near where my mum lives has a VW campervan parked in their driveway and they have tons of stickers from some annual VW campervan festival (I can't remember what it's called) - I definitely think you should go! Can't wait to see what adventures you, Nao and Lewes get up to!

    Cat xxx
    http://www.takecourageblog.com/

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  17. Oh it looks beautiful Artemis -- so thrilled for you (and just a teensy bit jealous. Oh, ok, a whole heap jealous ;)

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  18. Honk, honk!

    You've done an amazing job and it looks absolutely.......WOW.

    This is where your adventures begin in your little green VW.

    Nina x

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  19. Your life is a dream. I love your new campervan. I hope you have many gorgeous adventures together in it.

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  20. Wow, it looks exactly like a minature version of your flat. And just in time for some lovely autumnal escapades!

    Wool carpet is the best. I just got my hall and stairs done with pure wool carpet - if its good enough for sheep, its good enough for me. I don't think its impractical - its lovely!

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  21. Beautiful.

    You two live with style - and make style seem live a very approachable cute thing. A kitty.

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  22. Love all of it.

    Geraldine :)

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  23. How lush is that. I love my beach hut but I am thinking a VW Campervan tops it. I looks gorge. thebeachhutcook.com

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  24. I will dream of something like this - in another life - just divine. Now - who takes care of Plimsoll when you folks are away? Might he want to go with you? ;)

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  25. Looks fantastic! Thanks for all the detailed photos so we can check out your new wheels.

    Do you or Nao Instagram? If you do, would you mind sharing your usernames?

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  26. looking like a bus driver, ha! you've done it proud!

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  27. Oh, love the color and the restoration is amazing! I enjoy seeing your lovely tent though! I hope you do not retire it! Happy Trails!

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  28. my goodness. the most gorgeous thing i have ever seen. you will have so many amazing adventures.

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  29. So very impressed! You have given true honour to the Combie world. Can I ask you, do all Combie drivers in England wave to each other on the road? In Australia, you seem to join an exclusive club when you own a combie. It is womderful. I miss my combie so much. I still dream of lying there with my shepard, listening to the waves... Have FUN!!!

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  30. Anonymous17.10.11

    Tired of Lewes? I don't think so - can't wait to hear about your adventures!

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  31. Wow! It's so cute. And just the right size for two :)

    Katherine

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  32. Ohh my gosh, what is there to not love about your van, nothing it is to die for. I especially love the muted tones and breezy feel you have created. I do still hope to see the wonderful wedding tent on some of your trip :)

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  33. you are great! you have got brilliant!

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  34. Love it - so incredibly cool. I would adore one myself, and go of on trips with the kids and hussie - you did a marvelous job,
    Happy tracks,
    Axx

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  35. I've been looking forward to seeing the result of all your hard work! It looks very peaceful and I can't wait to read about all your new adventures!

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  36. Please post more! I'm just in amazement how beautiful everything you make is.

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  37. Anonymous18.10.11

    i've been trying to persuade my daughter to learn to drive, she's keen but nervous, I showed her this post and she's all "I could so rock up to school in that thing" so thanks...... I think!

    You've done such a beautiful job with lewes I hope you both have fabulous adventures for years to come.

    Jane x

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  38. I'm a little bit obsessed with your lewes rennovations. I just clicked on the flickr. Someone help me.

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  39. oh my goodness, this is amazing!! Thankyou so much for sharing all your amazing projects!

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  40. so so so so so so beautiful. I can't wait to see what other adventures you go on in Lewes! All of your hardwork has paid off. I want one! xx

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  41. OOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHH!!!!
    Beautiful!!!Looovely!!!!!

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  42. My Oh My aren't you Handsome Lewes... Fantastic makeover... I wish you and look forward to seeing your amazing adventures...

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  43. You've both worked so hard on this project, it's absolutely beautiful. I wish you many, many years of happy camping!

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  44. Perfection!!!!! :) :)

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  45. WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW! What a beauty! You've done such an amazing job!

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  46. I wish to you to happy, safe and SUUUUNNY travels with Lewes. Kisses to Plimsoll.

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  47. I know I'm going to sound daft, but daft I am ... I've always wondered what the beds in campers look like! Now I know and I'm a little bit in love with Lewes. Well done to you both x

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  48. Green with envy? You bet. Lewes looks loved and cared for. I can see many happy times ahead. xx

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  49. Fantastic!! you are going to have even better trips now xx

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  50. I loooooovvvveeee it!
    Lovely hugs
    Molly

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  51. Lewes looks lovely. Regarding the rusting battery tray, our van, Lexie suffers the same issue and so our mechanic recommended drilling a couple of drainage holes on either side (normal battery and leisure battery) to prevent a reoccurance x

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  52. I LOVE how it turned out! you did such a good job at renovating it and it looks like the cosiest little camper van ever. I especially like the curtains with print on curious creatures and the pine table. wishing you and Lewes a lot of adventures this Autumn!

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  53. Your life just looks so pretty. x

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  54. Wow, this looks amazing so wonderful for road trips. I love how you've done it up it's so perfect and adorable!

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  55. Oh my golly golly golly! That is So BLOODY COOL!!!!!!!!!

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  56. Wow what a lovely job! Do you often use your pastry brush on camping trips? You guys are very intrepid...

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  57. E-N-V-Y...*sigh*....

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  58. Love, love, love it! You've just described everything I felt when we got our 1970 VW bay, I love the feeling of packing it up to go off camping & the cosy-ness at night, plus all the 'VW waves' we get whenever we are out in it! We also have bunting in ours. You've done a fabulous job on it, she looks marvellous. Enjoy & maybe we'll bump into you at a fabulous campsite somewhere in the Uk. Surfs up baby! xx

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  59. Thank you all for your lovely comments! It means so much after working so hard on it. We have been getting very excited with all your feedback :)

    Alexis, we use the brush for coating our veggies in butter and soy sauce on the bbq. so ow you know!
    xxx

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  60. This is AMAZING! This has been a long held dream of mine and now you have well and truly brought it back for me!

    Brilliant job, and a fab colour!

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  61. Oh wow !!!! it's a fantastic work !!!! BRAVO !!!! ^_^

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  62. I've really enjoyed reading about you doing your VW renovations and wow you have finished it - it looks amazing :) The fabrics are beautiful especially the clever curtains you made with the animal pictures.

    V. inspiring.

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  63. If you aren't already members, I'd recommend joining the Camping & Caravanning Club. You get a great magazine each month with tips about places to visit, plus a members directory filled with different types of campsites across the UK (and probably Europe too) some of which are for members only. My husband and I joined last December when we got our camper van. It helped us to find a great campsite near the Lake District and we ended up camping in the snow on Christmas day - a magical experience!

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  64. HI guys - how wonderful to see your project complete. It looks truly wonderful and am glad you both feel very proud of all of your hard work. Ironically, I actually dreamt it was finished last week. Even though I've never met you guys - you were both in my dream and we were talking about your 'completed' van and how exciting it all was! Call me bonkers! I wish you many safe, wonderous and fantabulous journeys ahead.

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  65. ooohhh...you too are so good!

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  66. Oh wow it is lovely, you have done wonders with it! I would love a VW van *sigh* x

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  67. WOW!! Absolutely beautiful. You did a fabulous job making Lewes look so 'you.' I hope you have many wonderful days in nights in this beauty!

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  68. Wow, I love it! It looks so nice now.

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  69. You guys are ridiculous. This is amazing, so much love put into Lewes! I'm thrilled & jealous in equal amounts, and looking forward to your future adventures - a campervan trumps tent in winter!

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  70. I absolutely love your campervan! I have wanted one for so long now. Me and my husband had a great time traveling around Australia in one that we hired a few years ago. I love how it's like a mini home, everything you need and so cosy at night x

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  71. What a coincidence. Yesterday I was just admiring your jewellery after seeing it on creaturecomforts, and today I'm admiring your VW Campervan (I didn't know the two were related till a bit later!). I've always wanted a vw t2 campervan, and after seeing what you have turned yours into, i want one even more!!! unfortunately, it's probably not so suitable for road trips around malaysia (my boyfriend's landrover is more ideal...) so i may never get to own one as i will only be living in switzerland for another 2 years or so. congrats on the fantastic job, i hope you have some great trips in it!

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  72. that is an epic transformation, well done! I really like your fabric choices, especially your curtains!

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  73. so amazing!! here's to many happy trips and times in your incredible campervan! thanks for sharing!

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  74. Love the car and how it turned out to be! %)

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  75. waaaaoww I love your campervan!!!beautiful :)

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  76. we're trying to fix up our belgian trailer and i find your post inspiring and helpful. i love the linen and wool--eco friendly and natural! yours is one of my fave blogs.

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  77. What a fab job you've done on your camper..you must be dead chuffed:)

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  78. What a fab job you've done on your camper..you must be dead chuffed:)

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  79. Khanh3.11.11

    I'm in love with LEWES!

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  80. I felt like I'd gone back at time with the before pictures. I'm sure there will be many happy road trips with your little one! :)

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  81. I really am quite jealous I have always wanted one happy days to both of you

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  82. Love, love love. Your cozy n' cute caravan is a major inspiration for my girlfriend and I as we tackle our new, and first vw bus ( 75 orange :).

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  83. Anonymous18.11.12

    WELL DONE! You've made a beautiful job of him. I'm not usually a fan of home grown conversions, as I'm a bit of an 'originals only nerd'. But you've done this SO well. It makes such a nice change from the near ubiquitous pseudo hippy look. Yours is unique in all the right ways. What a joy!
    Btw 'The Campsite of the Lake' is a favourite of mine too.

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  84. Anonymous23.12.12

    Really good job, Makes me want to hurry up and finish my 71 bay and get out there to!, Really nice site to look through as well!

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  85. Lewes is gorgeous - well done on all your hard work. I hope our 67 splitty looks half as nice when we're finished sprucing him up!

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  86. Stumbled across your blog & thought I'd sent a quick shout out to say how cool it is that you took on this project & made it your own.

    Perhaps we'll see Lewes up in North Norfolk at the Dubs at the Hall event, or perhaps just driving around this summer!

    http://www.dubsatthehall.co.uk/

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  87. Anonymous27.8.13

    Absolutely stellar reno! Congratulations. It is totally charming and cozy as well as neatly done. Loved looking at all the pics. Many happy travels to you!

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  88. Hi guys, your camper looks amazing! You must feel very proud of what you have achieved :)

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  89. I am in the middle of restoring a 1978 bay with a Devon pop top roof. I was also born in the same year and have no previous experience. Have doubts that she'll ever be finished but your story gives me hope. Thanks x

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  90. this is a lovely work

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  91. I absolutely love your van! I have just bought one too, although the boxier 1982 T25 type, so was just browsing for inspiration on doing her up, think I've just found what I was looking for! Quick question - where did you get the lovely curtain fabric? It's really beautiful.
    Ta! Cx

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  92. You two are super adorable! I'd love to have something like this. Great job!

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  93. Hi! Your van is gorgeous. I just have a quick technical question. We have a T25 van called Barry (!) and have also bought bedside cabinets to use in him. I just don't know how to attach them to the floor. Can i ask how you managed it?! Thanks.

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  94. is that an electric or battery operated cooker thingy you have and what brand is it? AWESOME JOB!

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